YNM2020: Ramadan during COVID-19

This year was very different for our Muslim staff and volunteers who observe fasting during Ramadan, which culminated last weekend (23 and 24 May) with the religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Salma Alim, a Senior Paediatric Clinical Research Nurse based at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, has shared her experience and reflections of Ramadan during COVID-19 in this blog.

Ramadan is an integral part of the Islamic faith and this year Ramadan came around during the midst of a global pandemic.

Ramadan is usually a valuable time for me to spend time with my immediate and extended family to share meals and pray together.

This year, this opportunity was taken away due to social distancing measures in place in order to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and, as such, it was a disheartening experience, but understandably so. Like many others, I was reliant on the use of technology to maintain contact with my family members especially through group video calls.

Salma Alim
Salma Alim

Due to prayer commitments in the evenings, it was typical for me to go about my working day on little sleep which is very comparable to the little sleep one has with a new-born baby. The lack of sleep meant energy levels were low, which was challenging, and added pressure to getting through a full working day. 

MFT was very supportive to its Muslim employees who were observing their fast, by offering Ifthar (snack) boxes, which assisted staff to break their fast when at work. 

As a working Senior Clinical Research Nurse with two young children, the effects of COVID-19 have certainly been clear in my home. The school closures mean I have had to take on the added responsibility of home schooling and Islamic schooling my children in an attempt to maintain their education requirements. This requires an immense amount of commitment to maintain daily routine.  

Eid-ul-Fitr, the celebratory event to mark the end of Ramadan, was a slightly sad and quiet affair, particularly for my children as they missed out on spending quality time with their grandparents and cousins. 

Balancing life during a pandemic and observing fast at the same time was a very unique and challenging experience, one which I am sure many will empathise with.

I hope next year the Muslim community can resume it’s time of togetherness with their family and unite as a community during the month of Ramadan.